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Remittances and the Brain Drain: Do More Skilled Migrants Remit More?


  • Riccardo Faini


In most destination countries, immigration policies are tilted more and more in favor of skilled individuals. Whether this shift hurts economic prospects in sending countries, as argued by the traditional brain drain literature, is somewhat controversial. The most recent literature focuses on the link between skilled outmigration and educational achievements in the home country. This article emphasizes a different channel. It considers the argument that skilled migrants raise economic welfare at home by sending a relatively larger flow of remittances. While skilled migrants typically earn more, and so might be expected to remit more, they are also likely to spend more time abroad and to reunite with their close family in the host country. These second two factors should be associated with a smaller propensity to remit. Thus, the sign of the impact of the brain drain on total remittances is an empirical question. A simple model has been developed showing that skilled migrants may indeed have a lower propensity to remit from a given flow of earnings. An empirical equation of remittances is estimated as a measure of the brain drain in developing countries using the Docquier and Marfouk (2004) data set. Evidence is found that the brain drain is associated with a smaller propensity to remit. Copyright The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / the world bank . All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Riccardo Faini, 2007. "Remittances and the Brain Drain: Do More Skilled Migrants Remit More?," The World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 21(2), pages 177-191, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:21:y:2007:i:2:p:177-191

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